Tribute albums are nothing new, tribute albums to other albums also not quite new -- but tribute albums to specific songs are generally few and far between. Thus the conceit of this collection, which is indeed literally 19 versions of one song, Wire's "Outdoor Miner." The original is certainly one of that band's prime moments, a pop song like few others (and which allegedly might have almost actually charted at the time of release). Its reputation had already been demonstrated throughout the nineties via a number of unrelated covers, two of which appear here as ringers -- a 1992 take by Lush and a 1994 version by Flying Saucer Attack, both of which are pretty fine examples of the respective groups' styles. The rest were recorded specifically for this collection, starting with a low-key acoustic-led version by Swervedriver's Adam Franklin that eventually dissolves into some gentle guitar drones. From there the compilation weaves all over the place -- hearing the same song over and over could be dulling but there's enough variety to make it work, though a number of the remakes essentially replicate the original while adding nothing to it. Given the slight shoegaze bent of the Words and Music label it's no surprise that many of the contributions fall into that vein (though perhaps Lush's cover served as a model). The more outré or specifically different covers stand out all the more as a result -- Kick on the Floods' dreamy minimal Beach Boys-via-electro-pop take, Fiel Garvie's surprising industrial-strength clamor, Above the Orange Trees' elegant, sorrowful slowcore, Sharron Kraus' gentle banjo-led version, Should's warm all-instrumental take. Then there's the art-punk-grind thrash through the song provided by German band Boy Division, which wins the best quirky band name award at the least.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett